Ireland Bans Powerful Child-Abuse PSA for Baffling, Idiotic Reason

Ad falls afoul of gender rules

Ireland's advertising watchdog has made itself a laughingstock—except nobody's laughing—by banning an anti-child-abuse PSA that was powerful enough to get noticed worldwide. The brutal spot by Ogilvy Dublin, which Adweek covered at length here, shows a boy being beaten up while still articulating, in grown-up language, a manifesto for children's rights. After getting 13 complaints, the country's Advertising Standards Authority has banned the spot from all "Irish media" (this does not include YouTube) because it supposedly breaches gender-equality rules. "Complainants objected to the advertisement on the basis that it was unbalanced in its treatment of the subject of abuse in the home. The advertisement only depicted a male as being the aggressor, and the complainants considered this to be unbalanced," the ASA ruled, according to Adland. The stupidity of such a ruling is self-evident. It means you couldn't dramatize abuse without having both a man and a woman whaling on the kid at once—which would be weird and completely shift the focus of the ad from the abused to the abusers. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which produced the ad, is understandably flabbergasted and is in the ludicrous position of having to explain what should be common sense. "The video makes no reference to physical abuse being carried out exclusively by either men or women or indeed by fathers or mothers," it writes. "This advertisement does not focus on the adult; its focus is entirely on the child. Any attempt to focus on whether the adult is a male or female is clearly missing the point and purpose of the ad in the first instance." The ISPCC is appealing the ruling.